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Affordable Art Fair
Interviews - 14 August 2017

Meet Studio Upstairs

We’re thrilled to announce our Fair Charity for Bristol 2017: Studio Upstairs. We’ve caught up with the Director Zlatinka Hristova, to find out more about the positive effects art can have on the lives of studio members and the local community.

What's the driver behind Studio Upstairs?

Studio Upstairs exists to provide holistic support to people who are experiencing enduring mental or emotional difficulties. We offer a range of services that encourage our members to re-create their reasons and purpose for living, find new ways to live and experience a better quality of life. Through our safe, local studios available to all who need them, we provide an environment in which everyone can transform their life through creative community.

Tell us a bit about the history behind the Bristol branch. Studio Upstairs. Photograph by Lewis Brillet.

Studio Upstairs was started in 1988 in Camden by its three founders, Claire Manson, Doug Gill and Jo Hill, growing to became a registered charity in 1996. It was founding member Doug Gill and his move to Bristol in 1998 that sparked the idea for a Bristol arm of the charity, and that year, a steering group was set up to establish the new branch. In 2000, the Bristol Studio was set up in one room at Spike Island, five years later, with the support of the Tedworth Trust, the charity moved into its larger, current premises still on Spike. Having survived the aftermath of the financial crisis, and several years of cuts and austerity, Studio Upstairs proudly continues to work in Bristol with the vital support of private trusts, foundations, Arts Council England and local businesses; however, it mainly owes its existence to the passion and dedication of its team and volunteers. 

What are the kind of services Studio Upstairs provides?

Our core service is membership of the Visual Art Studio. Studio Members attend on agreed days to develop their own artwork in the shared studio space and to participate in communal activities including events and exhibitions. This kind of interaction and activity improves their wellbeing, prevents relapses and provides social support. We also offer carers respite by welcoming those caring for others into a friendly, supportive atmosphere where they are able to receive therapeutic support, enabling them to continue to meet the demands of caring. Studio Upstairs also provides a varied programme of workshops running throughout the year. These cover a broad range of topics such as: learning traditional and contemporary arts techniques, personal and professional development and improving health and wellbeing.

Can you describe the impact the Bristol studio has had on the lives of its members? 

Studio Upstairs is one of the very few organisations in the sector to openly recognise that enduring conditions of distress require longer term support as opposed to sporadic, time limited interventions. Naturally, the positive impact of Studio Upstairs is best summed up in the words of its members, you can listen to a short interview with Kathleen, a studio member, as she explains the profound effect being a part of a creative community has had on her life here

What have Studio Upstairs got planned for the Bristol fair? 

We’re super excited to be a part of this year’s Affordable Art Fair Bristol and we will be taking the opportunity to talk to visitors about the work we do, as well as display some of the artworks produced in the Bristol Studio including our ‘Give Us a Smile’ campaign - a collection of small canvasses donated by artists to raise funds for our charitable work. There’ll also be a raffle to raise funds for the Studio and much more, so be sure to swing by our stand and say hello!

Book your tickets now for the Charity Private View, Thursday 7 September from 5.30 – 9.30pm, in support of Studio Upstairs »

Header and body images: Photography supplied by Studio Upstairs. 

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